Apple Thunderbolt Display was Apple’s continuance of its LED Cinema Display and it was first introduced back in 2011. There were no changes made to this display until the company actually decided to discontinue it in 2016. Nevertheless, it is still being sold on popular sites like Amazon. So, let’s get familiar with what this Display actually featured, how you can troubleshoot it and what alternative options are available for those looking to switch just because they can’t buy it anymore from Apple
Apple Thunderbolt Display Introduction
As mentioned earlier, despite being discontinued from Apple, this display is still on sale at different online stores including Amazon. So, if you are planning to buy one, below are all the specs and details about the display.
The diagonal measure of the display used to be 27” and it was made using metal and glass offering support for 2560×1440 resolution that we had in the 27-inch iMac as well as LED Cinema Display. As far as the chassis thickness is concerned, it was almost around what we had in last couple of iMac generations. The Apple Thunderbolt Display also featured three speakers on the inside of its frame and they delivered 2.1-channel audio. There was also one basic FaceTime HD cam as well as a microphone included in the mix.
What Sets It Apart?
This display is not same as others owing to the fact that it comes with Thunderbolt connector that allows users to easily hook it up with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Pro easily. As soon as you have plugged the monitor into wall outlet, your Mac can be connected with the help of Thunderbolt cable for getting access to everything on the display including 3 powered USB 2.0 ports, Thunderbolt port, Firewire 800 port, and Ethernet port. You also get one MagSafe plug for supplying a maximum of 85W power to your Macbook. Besides, for newer Macbook models, there is packed-in MagSafe 2 adapter as well. You need Thunderbolt for video connections as any other video standard isn’t supported.
As mentioned earlier, the display didn’t receive an upgrade since its introduction and that depicts in its physical thickness, age of ports, non-Retina display resolution and pricing. Though not recommendable, but you can still buy it online and wait until Apple releases a newer, better version at some point in future.
How To Troubleshoot Apple Thunderbolt Display
If you are already using Apple Thunderbolt Display, there can be lots of reasons as to why your display may not show an image from connected Mac, connect to the Ethernet, recognize the USB peripherals, or not even Power On. In such scenarios, you can try out different things for troubleshooting purposes. And, before you decide to contact Apple, you should try troubleshooting the display yourself and see if it can be reset. Let’s take a look at what options you can try.
Update OS X
The first thing you can do for resetting and troubleshooting your Thunderbolt Display is updating the OS X. Updating to latest available version solves the issues most of the times. Here are the steps that you need to follow.
- Click Apple logo from menu bar on top-left
- Click “About This Mac” from dropdown menu
- Click “Software Updare”
- Click “Update” button right in front of latest version of the OSX in App Store
Power Cycle Only For 30 Sec
Another troubleshooting idea that you can try out is to shut down your Mac as well as Thunderbolt display and disconnect both from the AC power source for a minimum of 30 seconds. Here are the steps to follow.
- Disconnect the MagSafe cable of your Thunderbolt Display from Mac
- Disconnect the Display from the AC source simply by unplugging its cord
- Disconnect each and every USB peripheral and cables that might be plugged into your Thunderbolt Display
- Wait for 30 seconds, at least, and then power on your Mac as well as Thunderbolt Display.
Reset The SMC Of Your Mac
If your Mac is Intel-based then it should have System Management Controller that is commonly referred to as SMC. You can reset it and possibly fix the issues with your Apple Thunderbolt Display.
- Shut down your Mac
- Plug USB-C or MagSafe power adapter into your power source as well as computer
- On built-in keyboard of your Mac, press Shift-Control-Option keys from left side simultaneously with power button
- Now, release all keys and power button. Make sure that you release all of them at same time
- Press power button for turning your Mac on
If you have a Mac Pro, Mac Mini or iMac then you can follow steps here. If you are using a Mac having MagSafe adapters, the state of LED on the cable might be changed or it may turn off temporarily when your SMC is reset.
Reset PRAM or NVRAM On Your Mac
NVRAM, or non-volatile random access memory, of your Mac stores specific settings and they remain there even when you have turned your Mac off. If you have an older Mac, you might know it as PRAM. Resetting this memory might solve the issue for you. Here are the steps to follow.
- Shut down your Mac
- Turn the Mac back on
- Press Command-Option-P-R keys and hold them right after a startup sound is heard
- Keep holding the keys until your Mac is restarted and a startup sound is heard for second time
- Now you can release all those keys
Once your NVRAM has been reset, it might be required that you reconfigure the settings of your Mac pertaining to screen resolution, speaker volume, time zone information and selection of startup disk.
Use Standalone Thunderbolt Cable
You can also try to connect a standalone cable between the Thunderbolt Display and your Mac. If the issue is resolved by doing so then the dual MagSafe-Thunderbolt cable of the display might be damaged.
Get In Touch With Apple
When all else fails, your last resort is, obviously, contacting Apple Support. And you can do that by calling on 1-800-MY-APPLE, getting your Genius Bar appointment scheduled or going for another option as needed. Another possible option is to visit a service provider authorized by Apple in case your Thunderbolt Display needs to be repaired.
What Apple Thunderbolt Display Alternatives Are Available?
As mentioned earlier, Apple is no longer selling this type of Display which leaves most of the buyers in a situation where they have to look for the best alternatives available. So, if you are looking for a display that is lightning quick and gives you more or less the same quality as Apple Thunderbolt Display, you still have other options available. However, before getting into any such endeavor, you should first do a compatibility check so that you can get the right one to work with your type of Mac.
The first thing that you should be considering before you head out to buy the alternative Thunderbolt display is the Thunderbolt port that you will be connecting it to. Unless your Mac features Thunderbolt 2.0 port or Thunderbolt 3.0 port, you shouldn’t be buying any other 4K display because it won’t be support Thunderbolt 1.0 standard. It simply does not have enough bandwidth to run all the pixels involved.
Even all the Macs having Thunderbolt 2.0 don’t support 4K videos. The ones that do include:
- MacBook Pro: 13”, 15”, Retina
- Mac Pro: 2013 (late) and all later models
- MacBook Air: 2015 (early) and all later models
- iMac: 27”, 2013 (late) and all later models
If you do not have the models mentioned above or own something from earlier Mac devices, you should not opt for 4K displays. Rather buy something else and you will still be able to get a great display.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to Apple Thunderbolt Display and see what their specifications are.
LG Ultra-Fine 5K Display
It comes with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1, 5GBPS)(x3) connection options. It really is something Ultra-Fine and offers P3 color gamut along with many great features including stereo speakers, microphone, camera, and adjustable stand among many others. If you own the latest model of Macbook Pro, this monitor can also be used as your charging station as it has the ability to power your Macbookas it accepts both video and audio.
However, you still have to keep one thing in mind that there are many devices which still don’t support USB-C. Nevertheless, it’s still worth it as you will be getting 14.7 million pixels right there on your 27” screen. The package also includes Thunderbolt 3 cable and all you need to do is to plug it in and get things going. Keep an eye on the price tag though as you’ll be paying a whopping $1000 for it. But if the type of resolution it offers is more important than the price, then you shouldn’t have second thoughts about this one.
Dell Ultra-Sharp Infinity Edge (U2717D)
Talking about connections, this display gives you quite a few options including DisplayPort (1.2a), HDMI/MHL, Mini Display Port, Display Port out, Audio-out (3.5 mm), USB 3.0 (x5)(including one for charging different devices).
The Ultra-Sharp line from Dell really stands out of the rest and when it comes to Infinity Edge, it easily outsmarts them all. Infinity Edge means that there’s almost no bezel which makes the screen look like floating in front of you. And when this happens at 2560×1440 resolution, it’s simply gorgeous and lets you keep your focus on the task you are currently doing.
Something better than Thunderbolt Display from apple, Ultra-Sharp Infinity Edge comes covered in anti-glare coating and that means you can let as much natural light as you want to enter into your room because your screen will not become a mirror no matter how bright the conditions may be.
Another thing that you must like about it, which is not there in the Apple’s display is its ability to tilt, swivel and adjust the height. So, it can take just about any orientation you’d like it to have.
The IPS panel of U2717D is also something worth noting. The panels arrange molecules of the liquid crystals horizontally and this is something that makes for an amazing viewing angle from the sides as well as amazing color depth.
It comes in same size as that of the Apple’s display and can serve as a great alternative. If you are after a powerful monitor that can serve you all day long, Ultra-Sharp 27” Infinity Edge screen should be your obvious choice.
Dell Ultra-Sharp (U2715H)
This display also offers you quite a few connection options including Display Port(1.2a), HDMI/MHL(x2), Mini Display Port, USB 3.0 (x5) (includes port for device charging), Display Port-Out, and Audio out (3.5 mm).
The predecessor of U2717D, this model features all connections that you might need and the 2560×1440 gives you to most accurate and beautiful video and images. Besides, it’s really quick and gives you 8ms response time when you perform certain physical action to be seen on display.
It doesn’t require you to go with those unwieldy AC adapters as it comes with its own power supply and leaves your desk as well as floor uncluttered. This display, however, does not offer support for infinity edge but it doesn’t distract you with its minor bezel at all.
One major difference between U2717D and U2715H is that of price as the latter is almost $90 cheaper and you can spend the saved money on buying peripherals as you like. Hence, if you are not too concerned about having latest model, U2715H is still a great option to go with.
Ben Q GW Series (GW2765HT)
Let’s talk about connections first, and this display offers you D-sub, Display Port, DVI-DL, HDMI, Audio-in and Audio-out (3.5 mm).
If you have a tight budget then you should definitely go with Ben Q’s 27” LED-lit display that starts somewhere around $350. You get 2560×1440 resolution the same way as with above mentioned displays. The IPS panel makes for some amazing viewing angles as well. And, if you always jump here and there between your desks while requiring to reference the screen constantly, it will be great for you to have this display with no need to take a head-on look at it.
One quirkier feature that you’d really like is that it comes with built-in speakers. You don’t really need to have any headphones as you can get decent audio from 1W built-in speakers when you are in some jam.
So, if you are looking for one beautiful display which really offers some amazing functionality and is not too price either, BenQ is the brand to go with and GW2765 is definitely the monitor you should choose.
Asus is a popular brand and PB278Q is a good display to have. It comes with HDMI, Display Port (1.2 a), D-Sub, PC audio-in (3.5 mm), Dual-link DVI-D, AV audio-in 1.4 and Audio-out (3.5 mm) connection options.
It really is one powerhouse offering 2560×1440 display that boasts of its 178 degrees viewing angle that comes from a robust IPS panel.
If you are interested in audio, this Asus model is the one for you as it offers a couple of audio-in ports, a couple of 3W speakers and one headphone jack as well. So, if you just want to take a break with some trending YouTube video or if you are just watching back some video project, these speakers will come in handy.
Just like other great displays out there, this model is height-adjustable and can be swiveled around and tilted to get any orientation that you may like.
Besides, if you are interested in video editing, light gaming or animating, ASUS PB278Q gives you all that you need and can be a great alternative to Apple Thunderbolt Display.
So, whether you want to buy Apple Thunderbolt Display or just looking for an alternative, you have all the information you need right here. You just need to consider all available options at hand and then decide which one is better suited to you. Even if you want a replacement to your Thunderbolt Display from Apple, you are no short of options and the ones described above are simply the best. Go with one you like and have a blast!